Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


Mike Ashley To Follow The Carnegie Philosophy?

8 years ago

I am old enough to remember the protests and the banners against Joe Harvey and the demands by supporters for his removal and for the club to show more ambition; to win a trophy. And this barely five years after winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (forerunner of today’s Europa League).

“Be careful what you wish for, it might come true!”

The Club duly sacked Harvey and what happened next?

We were ‘rewarded’ with Gordon Lee and Richard Dinning. And then….?

Nothing happened; new faces but same old problems.

We still haven’t won anything since 1969.(The Texaco Cup and the Anglo-Italian Cup don’t really count. Well, do they?)

Sir John Hall then came along full of grand ideas and hope for the future. True, we got a new stadium but only after a repeat of the 1966 World Cup arguments between the Club, the City Council and the City’s Freemen. The 1966 group games were transferred to Ayresome Park and the current stadium, while it is a vast improvement on the previous one, had to be compromised and looks like two mismatched halves stuck together.

Sir John waxed lyrical about having ‘a team of eleven geordies’ coming through from the Club’s academies and youth system. Excellent idea and something we all would like to see.

But that didn’t happen either.Scrapping the reserve team in 1995 was undoubtedly the most bizarre decision; I know the FA rules at the time were partly the cause of it but without the conduit of a reserve team how is the dream team of ‘eleven Geordies’ going to be achieved?

Instead of concentrating on and building up the core business of NUFC, basing it on a good and forever improving team capable of winning things, Hall went off and acquired a rugby team, a basketball team, an ice hockey team and probably a darts team as well for all I know.

I would call that trying to run before you can walk. That is trying to build from the top down, or trying to buy success. It doesn’t work! It has never worked.

Success in football comes from hard work, good management, but mainly inspired leadership from the likes of Bill Shankly, Matt Busby, Jock stein, Brian Clough, Bobby Robson….. add your own names to the list. Even the Mackems were successful under Bob Stokoe (an ex-Mag, of course).

Has any of that happened at NUFC? We sacked an inspirational leader in Joe Harvey, remember? With good management supporting him he could have achieved more. We also sacked Sir Bobby Robson for reasons I still don’t understand.

And now we have Ashley. Why did he buy the club? I’m sure even he doesn’t know why he did it and it is clear that he didn’t give it much thought when he did because he bought it without bothering to scrutinise the accounts. Now that I come to think of it, why exactly did Sir John Hall sell the Club? On camera and in the press he was always ‘passionate’ about NUFC. If he loved the Club so much why did he get rid of it?

Sir John Hall didn’t want the Club, he sold it to Ashley who in turn doesn’t want the Club either, he tried to sell it on ebay!

There is no doubt that the Club has been mis-managed. The evidence for it is pretty clear but we have to ask ourselves – is it manageable?

‘Businessmen’ applying their usual business strategies, transferred from their success in other fields of business, have failed.

As an aside, it is not just NUFC and other clubs which are difficult to run. It must be said that the FA, UEFA and FIFA are no better at doing the right thing. Awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a joke – I worked there for 6 months and, believe me, it is the worst place imaginable for playing football, even in winter. I know. I tried it!

And reading of the grand FFP plans by Michel Platini for European Clubs, why do I see the ghost of the G14 group and their desire for an elite European League?

But back to NUFC. What now?

We are going round in circles with unrest among the supporters once again and marches of protest and banners declaring Time4Change. Sorry, but that is not going to achieve anything. Change what exactly? You will have to be more specific in your demands and a lot more constructive in your criticism of Ashley’s governance of the Club.

Ashley has entrenched himself behind a silent sulk. He needs to find a way out without losing face and it is good that the NUST are trying to build bridges.

In an email to The Mag’s editor last week I wrote “the four teams in the semi-finals of last season’s Champion’s League are all Community Clubs run by the members and are basically non-profit organisations. There must be a lesson in there somewhere.”

I think that idea is something that should be ‘sold’ to Mike Ashley in some way.

Andrew Carnegie wrote (in a memo to himself)   “…The amassing of wealth is one of the worse species of idolatry. No idol more debasing than the worship of money…..the man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”

Carnegie’s philosophy in life was very simple:

To spend the first third of one’s life getting all the education one can.

To spend the next third making all the money one can.

To spend the last third giving it all away for worthwhile causes.

Question for Mike Ashley (as well as for Sir John Hall)  You have done the first two thirds of that dictum, and done it very successfully making yourself wealthy in the process.

Question now is – What are you going to do with your money? You cannot possibly spend it all and hoarding it like the Yahoos in Gulliver’s Travels is probably a form of insanity or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at the very least.


By following third part of the “Andrew Carnegie Dictum” and reconstituting the Club along the lines of Bayern Munich (minimum of 50% plus 1 share owned by the fans) you can become an instant hero, able to drink with the fans again which we are told is something you would like to do once more.

It would also be an opportunity for the fans to stop shouting meaningless slogans and to accept responsibility for the running of their Club.

This should be open for discussion and it will be interesting to see what other constructive/imaginative ideas NUFC supporters can come up with to get the Club moving in the right direction.

We must put difficult and intelligent questions to the Club, questions which cannot be brushed aside without giving sound and logical reasons for why they cannot be answered.


If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2021 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks